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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
"The Hobbit" 1937 edition


Aug 16 2013, 1:37am

Post #1 of 6 (281 views)
"The Hobbit" 1937 edition Can't Post

How many out there have read the 1937 edition, and was it the first time you read "The Hobbit"?

For me it was my first reading. I had found it in my high school library in 1962. I was needing a book report and it and "Have Spacesuit Will Travel" were available. I read both (and liked both!) but gave the report on "The Hobbit".
Years later after reading "The Lord of the Rings" I found out that there was an edited version of "The Hobbit" written to jive the two stories together. Needless to say I had to reread the 'new' book to see what was different. I honestly could not say at that time
what the two versions had different. Took a while to find it as I no longer had the original version with which to compare the two. I really have no preference of one over the other. They are good stand alone as they sit.
I am happy that the newer version blends in with "The Lord of the Rings" more smoothly.

KasDel the Last

"Do not meddle in the affairs of wizards, for they are subtle and quick to anger." Gildor

Grey Havens

Aug 16 2013, 2:24am

Post #2 of 6 (213 views)
Can't be sure... [In reply to] Can't Post

I was only six when I read it for the first time, so my recollection of the details is hazy. It was a copy I borrowed from my local public library. I reread "The Hobbit" (other copies, I had moved to another town by then) many times since.

I think most likely it was the revised edition, though, as this was in the US in 1975.


Aug 16 2013, 7:15am

Post #3 of 6 (190 views)
Are there any differences apart from Riddles in the Dark? [In reply to] Can't Post

I have read that chapter by itself, and some parts of the History of the Hobbit, but never just the 1937 version.


Aug 16 2013, 1:14pm

Post #4 of 6 (180 views)
Ch-ch-cha-changes... [In reply to] Can't Post

The revisions from the 1937 edition are detailed in both The History of The Hobbit and The Annotated Hobbit. besides the alterations to "Riddles in the Dark" there are some slight changes to the following chapter, "Out of the Frying-pan and Into the Fire." They are mostly in the story that Bilbo tells his companions about how he escaped from Gollum and got through the back-door, but there are some other, minor re-phrasings as well.

'There are older and fouler things than Orcs in the deep places of the world.' - Gandalf the Grey, The Fellowship of the Ring

Grey Havens

Aug 16 2013, 1:34pm

Post #5 of 6 (167 views)
My first read... [In reply to] Can't Post

... was the 'Third Edition' which contained even more alterations by the author [most notably in my opinion, in the 1960s Tolkien removed a reference to the Elves existing before the Sun existed].

I read about the differences in the Annotated Hobbit later.


Aug 16 2013, 4:52pm

Post #6 of 6 (188 views)
An old favorite from childhood [In reply to] Can't Post

I was raised on 'The Hobbit' by my mother, who read it to me and my brothers in the early 1960s. She had an original edition from when she was a little girl in the late 1930s. I remember especially the painting of Smaug, which entranced me so much that I would go find the book on its shelf and open it to the illustration, so I could look at it again and again. From my point of view, when we got a little older and she followed up with 'The Lord of the Rings', I was very upset to learn that Bilbo would not be the hero of the new book - although I got over it eventually.

So to me Gollum was the creepy but ultimately honest creature from 1937 - until the 1990s, when I got a new copy of 'The Hobbit' to read to my own children. Although I knew from reading 'LotR' that Gollum would reappear in that book as a far more dangerous anti-hero, I was still shocked to actually read, "Thief! Thief! Baggins, we hates it forever!" as Bilbo daringly leapt over his murderous antagonist in the new edition. Somewhat to my surprise, I found I remembered distinctly that Gollum at that point had politely begged off from showing Bilbo the exit, once they got too close to the light of the goblins' door. The old noser was last seen slinking back down the tunnel while Bilbo advanced to his next adventure.

I still think of Gollum in 'The Hobbit' as "Old Gollum", not at all a hobbit, and rather funny in a child-creepy way. Does it cause a conflict in my appreciation of 'The Lord of the Rings'? No. Possibly this is due to how I was first exposed to the books: in the original order, and at an advancing age in late childhood, as Tolkien had first intended his audience to read the two works. I don't think of them as directly linked and part of one great story, even though the beginning of 'LotR' and the revised 'Hobbit' invites me to. To me they will always be somewhat separate and individual books, to be appreciated in different ways and for different reasons.

squire online:
RR Discussions: The Valaquenta, A Shortcut to Mushrooms, and Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit
Lights! Action! Discuss on the Movie board!: 'A Journey in the Dark'. and 'Designing The Two Towers'.
Footeramas: The 3rd (and NOW the 4th too!) TORn Reading Room LotR Discussion; and "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
squiretalk introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary

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